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Influencer vs. Personal Brand

With social media, and the ability to be in touch with people from all over the world, the ‘influencer’ has emerged. Amongst many, the word ‘influencer’ is often frowned upon or misunderstood. In this article, we’ll explain to you the difference between influencers and personal brands.

There are two sides to the influencer spectrum. The significant majority, say 97%, of ‘influencers’ are the ones who seem to blow up overnight. They have lots of followers and social clout, but they base their content around trends and attractive content for views. It looks really cool from the outside, but in reality (not to sound harsh), all these influencers have going for them is a follower count. The only way they monetize is by promoting products for brands, which is becoming less and less fruitful for influencers as the space becomes more saturated and brands are paying less and less.

These influencers do not have engaged followers. Sure, they may get lots of likes/views on some posts, but this is because they are either trending, attractive, or have lots of skin showing. They aren’t actually giving the consumer any real value. If these influencers released their own ebooks, promoted brands for commission, or launched their own product/brand, they’d see next to zero sales.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have influencers who often have less followers, but are able to say the word and their audience buys… Just think of your favorite influencer - you’ve probably bought something they sold you. Why? You really, really like who they are, and feel a strong connection to them. They are masters at creating real connection with their followers through their authenticity and vulnerability. They are “real”. We like to call these influencers, ‘personal brands.’ Because quite literally, they’ve built a brand from their influence.

So how does one go from ‘influencer’ to ‘personal brand?’

They can truly move products. Whether it be their own or someone else's. They sell because of who they are. Their advice, their tips, their lifestyle, and how they got to the point where they are at. They throw their real personality at their audience, and are genuine and unique. People want to interact with real people, and being real builds trust, which increases their ability to sell.

They also build an extremely tight-knit community by being vulnerable and human. Meaning, their followers do not sense any “fake” content or them just selling out for money or attention. They stay consistent, are genuine, and give their audience value that actually improves their lives in one way or another. These personal brands actually take the time to speak directly with their audience, reply to their comments, follow them back, send them messages... All of these actions strengthen their customer relationship and increase their sales.

Personal brands that make the most money build tons of trust with their audience through authenticity, and create a community that is a sub-niche of a niche. The more niche the better, because the best way to create a successful personal brand is to become the go-to, recognized leader of a specific topic. People who provide value that solves real pain points for people. Typically, these personal brands do it by sharing their own personal experience with that pain point, and share how they solved their problems. Therefore, they solve pain points for their audience and can relate to them.

The result is people pay for their online courses, e-books, product recommendations, fitness plans, whatever it may be, because they have been truly ‘influenced’ and want to apply their tips and tricks to their own lives.

Successful influencers, AKA personal brands have the power to post, and instantly sell.

It may seem hard to wrap your head around the fact that personal brands are able to make so much money from literally selling their content, but it really is no different than a normal DTC business. DTC businesses create a product, and sell it directly to their customers. The more loyal the customers, the more they sell, and all types of businesses need to leverage content and engagement to sell.

In this day and age, successful personal brands drive just as much revenue as most traditional businesses. With that said, the vast majority of influencers never reach this point, and never will, even if they have large followings… because they lack authentic connection and true community.

In terms of strategy, one can argue there is very little difference between a business that stems from a personal brand and traditional DTC brands… Some sort of value ladder through content that leads to an initial sale, maybe some upsells, then a customer retention strategy increasing the lifetime value of a customer.

Grouped is a tool for all DTC brands, including personal brands (as explained above they are virtually the same) to strengthen their customer relationships and increase their sales through the power of community. We know the frustrations of trying to use traditional social media to engage and drive sales out of your existing customers, which is why we created Grouped, a place where you can create a private community and have the full attention of your customers.

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